Attempting to Reflect

In Accra, The Art of Travel Spring 2015, Farewells by Lydia Cap2 Comments

I’ve been dreading this post, not because I am sad that my time abroad is almost over, but because I am so excited to leave and I feel weird writing probably the only farewell post that is less of an “I’ll miss you” and more of a “peace out.” I’m kind of over Ghana at this point. I spend my days in a state of reluctant acceptance: I’m here, I’m unhappy, but if I power through I’ll be home in no time.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret coming here: I am grateful for the opportunity to see what life is like in the developing world. What I’ve experienced here has given me a new perspective on my life in America. There is so much that I take for granted–electricity, clean tap water, and public transportation to name a few–and I know that upon my return I will give these things the appreciation they so deserve.

My problems with Ghana do not relate to the country or the people, but to how I interact with them. I simply haven’t found my niche or developed the coping methods needed to fully integrate myself into Ghanaian society, and honestly I don’t think I ever will. I am the ultimate Type A: I crave punctuality, am goal-oriented, and find myself easily agitated. Ghanaians are usually Type B to the extreme: they live relaxed, stress-free lives and feel no sense of urgency. We simply don’t mesh well and I’ve accepted that.

I long to be in a place where I can finally fit in, feel like myself, and return to the standard of living I am used to. I’m finding it difficult to positively reflect on my time in Ghana because I am not happy right now. It’s impossible to see the big picture because I’m so focused on the little struggles I face every day. I’m hoping that once I return to Long Island and no longer have to fight to make it through 24 hours without snapping at someone, the big picture will come into focus.

I’ve had many rewarding experiences here: my internship at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, learning what it feels like to be a racial minority, and simply observing what life is like in an African country. I wish I could say more, but I feel like reflecting on my time here while I am in such a hostile mood wouldn’t do justice to the happier and more enjoyable aspects of Ghana and NYU Accra. I have greatly enjoyed blogging for this class; many of the posts I wrote and comments I received were therapeutic and helped me deal with many of the struggles I faced while trying to adjust to life in Ghana. Although my experience here was pretty neutral (not terrible but not amazing either), I hope everyone enjoyed reading my posts and that they don’t completely discourage students from studying abroad here in the future!

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Comments

  1. I really appreciate your post. Most students feel like the have to put up this I-Love-Studying-Abroad-Best-Decision-Of-My-Life but the actuality of it is that studying abroad can be very stressful, and not what you expect. I’ve encountered plenty of people at NYU London who miss home and are ready to bounce. That said, I think it is essential to reflect on our experiences, find the root of our issues, and grow from them–like you have. I have problems with NYUL, but also know the blessings I’ve reaped from it. I’m sorry Ghana was not the best experience in the world, but the situations you’ve had, and ideas you’ve formed, seem very concrete and long-lasting. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts!

    Cheers,

  2. LYDIA you aren’t alone! Everyone on our program is so excited to go home, but I’m sure you already know this. I don’t think any of us regret coming to Ghana, but living in a developing country for four months has definitely been challenging. I seriously can’t wait to drive on paved roads and listen to my iPod in public. Although you say you and Ghanaians don’t mesh well, I think you’ve handled the differences in culture so well and you’ve been very patient with all of the difficulties we face everyday. I like to think that I am pretty laid back, but I’ve definitely have had trouble (especially this week) controlling my frustration in different social settings. But I think once all twelve of us have had time to reflect on this experience back home, we will be very appreciative of our abroad experience.

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